What is a VATS Key?

The safety of our vehicles is extremely important to all of us. VATS keys, introduced by GM in 1986, were one of the first  keys to provide extra security measures, and therefore extra peace of mind that a vehicle is as safe as possible. VATS (Vehicle Anti-Theft System) keys were first used on Corvettes, because, as you can imagine, the sports car was a major target for thieves.

Since the invention of the VATS key did so well to reduce the number of stolen Corvettes, GM expanded the system to other models such as the Camaro, Firebird, and Cadillac Seville vehicles in their later models. VATS keys then became an industry standard as they appeared in other vehicles such as Buicks. The original VATS systems were popular through the early 2000s, and one of the last vehicles released with a traditional VATS system was the 2003 Firebird. The original VATS key systems paved the way for the levels of electronic vehicle security we have today.

Traditional Keys

There are a number of differences between traditional keys and VATS keys. Traditional mechanical keys provide just a basic level of security to vehicles. Two of the most common types of traditional mechanical keys are edge cut keys and side-winder keys.

Edge cut keys are the standard key variety that many vehicles have used for decades. The cuts are on the edge of the keys, and they can be copied by most standard key machines.

High security, or side-winder keys, offer a little more security than edge cut keys as they cannot be copied by standard key machines. In order to copy these keys, a particular type of machine must be used to engrave cut specifications into the key.

VATS Keys and How They Work

VATS keys are essentially the first electronic keys and, as such, provide a much-needed improvement in vehicle safety from their predecessors. VATS keys have resistors embedded in them, and when someone inserts a VATS key into the ignition of their vehicle, an electrical current runs through the resistor inside. The resistor value is read by a computer inside the car, and if it is not the same as the value in the computer’s memory, the car will not be able to start. This function provides extra security because a few minutes of stalling is plenty of time for a car thief to choose another vehicle to pursue.

Also, duplicating a VATS key is not as simple as going to a key copier at the store. In order to copy a VATS key, a locksmith will use a VATS interrogator to determine the resistance value of the key as it is important that they match, and then the cuts can be copied onto the blank key.

The Remote Keys of Today

Electronic keys have certainly come a long way since the release of the original VATS keys in the mid ‘80s. Nowadays, many of us have remote buttons we can use to lock and unlock our cars at the very least. Many vehicles now have keypads on which you can enter a code to unlock your car, and even push-to-start buttons that render a standard key unnecessary.

Proximity technology of locking and unlocking remotes that come with newer vehicles is a way push-to-start vehicles can remain safe, as long as the remotes stay in the possession of the vehicle’s owner. Today’s modern remote key fobs often have a number of functions in addition to locking and unlocking cars, including folding down mirrors, opening windows and sunroofs, and even remotely starting cars. Because car key technology is ever-advancing, locksmiths keep up with trends and will be able to answer any key-related questions you may have.

Need Help? Call the Key Experts at Pop-A-Lock

Regardless of the type of key or vehicle you have, the experts at Pop-A-Lock have the knowledge and trained technicians you need to retrieve keys locked in your car, or help replace lost or stolen keys. Founded in 1991 in Lafayette, Louisiana, we have over two and a half decades of experience as trained, educated, and dedicated locksmiths. All of our technicians are trained on the most up-to-date locksmith technology including VATS keys and any other type of vehicle key you have, and we are proud to serve more than 8,500 communities. Visit our website to find the Pop-A-Lock nearest you. We’re there when you need us.